Remember those summer reading lists your teacher would give you for the following year? Well, I like to give summer Omwork (note: OMwork is much more fun than Homework). Below are five sunny, beachy, summer-specific yoga poses and practices you can do with the kid(s) in your life!
1. Sun Salutations: Summertime is all about being outside and enjoying the sun, whether you're a city, country or suburb kid! Celebrate the sun with the sun dance. You can lead kid yogis through the adult sun salutation you know or shorten it and try adding a song. (There's a version of kid sun salutations on my website here or make up your own!) Sun Saluations warm up your body like the sun warms up the earth, get our energy flowing, make us feel bright and happy.
2. Sailboat/Rowboat/Doubleboat/Cruiseship pose: Sometimes summer is spent by the water, whether its the ocean, a pond, the pool, or even a sprinkler :) Make Boat pose even more fun by moving your straight arms up and down in alternating fashion, adjusting the wind in your sails. Try to keep your back flat and heart shining upward to catch the wind and light! You can also try Boat pose with bent knees and alternate paddling your feet like a paddle boat. (Secret: both of these variations encourage strong tummy muscles and coordination.) It's also fun to make your boat twice as big by partnering with a friend. Face your friend and bring feet to touch, grab hands and then try to extend your legs into a double boat. If there are many yogis in the ocean, lining up several double boats equals a cruise-ship! Notice what's more difficult and what's easier when you practice alone or with a friend.
3. Flamingo: Flamingos are summery colorful birds. They get their pink color from all the shrimp they eat (note to little yogis: we are what we eat!) Flamingo pose is a balancing pose similar to Tree. Root into one foot strong and steady and bring the other bent knee in front of you. Then bring your hands to touch like a bird's bill in front of your nose. See if you can look at one spot (your drishdi) for balance and stand up nice and tall. If you fall, just get right back into the pose. Don’t forget to try the other leg, too.
4. Mermaid Pose: This is a fun pose that's also good for strengthening core muscles. Start by sitting down and planting both feet on the ground in front of you, knees glued together and pointing toward the sky. This is your mermaid tail. With your upper body lean onto your forearms but try to keep your heart bright and shining upward. Then feel the strength of your stomach and lift your feet off the ground, keeping them glued (remember its your tail!) Swish your mermaid tail back and forth by pointing the toes near your left hip, then your right. Turn your head toward your tail as you go and feel yourself sunning on a rock or showing off your scales.
5. Starfish Savasana: This is one of my favorite savasanas, whether its beach season or not. Lie in savasana but spread your arms and legs wide to make a star shape with your body (kind of like you're going to make a snow angel, but ocean style). Imagine you have suction cups on the back of your arms and legs keeping you stuck to the ocean floor. You can imagine the peace and quiet of having the whole ocean around you. Sometimes I'll play some ocean sounds or twinkle twinkle little star to accompany our rest.
Practice one yoga pose or element from the list above or link them together into a mini-practice. Noticing and celebrating the season and all its special gifts is very yogic, too! What do you love about summer?